Gen. Dempsey Says He Will Question Standards That Are "Too High"
The Department of Defense is protesting (too much) that when military women are allowed (actually, ordered) into direct ground combat battalions, they will be held to the same standards men must meet today. This claim is not compatible with another major social goal of the Defense Department, what former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen used to call "diversity as a strategic imperative."
There are seven major reasons why the Obama Administration, including compliant members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are being less than candid about the consequences of policies that lame-duck Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered on January 24.
1. Pentagon Feminists Will Not Accept Men's High Standards
The tipoff came during the January 24 Pentagon news conference conducted by Panetta and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. Dempsey said that if "a particular standard is so high that a woman couldn't make it, the burden is now on the service to come back and explain...why is it that high? Does it really have to be that high?" Since the stated goal is "set women up for success," the answer will be "No."
It does not matter what Pentagon officials and women-in-combat activists are promising now. For the following reasons, incremental pressures to assign women to fighting infantry battalions eventually will drive qualification standards down.
2. "Critical Mass" Means Many Women, not the Exceptional Few
Speaking the language of social engineers, not combat veterans, Gen. Dempsey admitted the need to introduce a "critical mass" or "significant cadre" of women into previously-all-male units. This phrase, usually interpreted to mean a cohort of 10-15 percent, cannot be met with a few exceptional women who "only want a chance."
To insert into direct ground combat units even half of the women needed to achieve a "critical mass," commanders will have to incrementally modify the male-oriented program of instruction so that female personnel, including unwilling enlisted servicewomen, will "succeed."
3. Group Rights, Not Individual Rights
High, uncompromised standards simply are not compatible with recommendations of the Pentagon's own Military Leadership Diversity Commission (MLDC), a mostly-civilian commission set up by feminists in the Congress and the Pentagon. In 2011, the MLDC called for elimination of women's land combat exemptions in order to achieve non-remedial gender-based "diversity metrics" − read, "quotas." The Defense Department endorsed the MLDC's egalitarian report at a Pentagon news conference on February 9, 2012.
The MLDC report admits that the new "diversity management" involves fair treatment, but "it is not about treating everyone the same. This can be a difficult concept to grasp, especially for leaders who grew up with the EO-inspired mandate to be both color and gender blind." (p. 18)
This "new diversity" concept is a radical departure from the military's honorable tradition of recognizing individual merit − the key to successful racial integration long before the civilian world. The "new diversity" is not about individual rights; it's about gender-based group rights that will result in discrimination against deserving, well-qualified men.
4. Diversity Czar, Career Penalties Will Drive Standards Down
The MLDC Report that the Department of Defense endorsed last year recommends that a "Chief Diversity Officer (CDO)," reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense, be established to monitor accountability for "diversity management." (MLDC Executive Summary, p. xvii) This Diversity Czar will establish a new feminist power base in the Pentagon that will make career promotions at all levels contingent on "diversity leadership." We know this because the Defense Department-endorsed Military Leadership Diversity Commission says so:
"To ensure that the diversity effort continues, demonstrated diversity leadership must be assessed throughout careers and made, in both DoD and the Senate, a criterion for nomination and confirmation to the 3- and 4-star ranks....Successful implementation of diversity initiatives requires a deliberate strategy that ties the new diversity vision to desired outcomes via policies and metrics....military leaders at all levels can be held accountable for their performance in diversity management and rewarded for their efforts." (MLDC Executive Summary, p. xviii, emphasis added)
Field commanders and combat trainers will know that the opposite, of course, also will be true. They will be rewarded for ensuring "success" for the women-in-land-combat social experiment and penalized for not doing so.
There is no incentive for ensuring that tough training standards for elite fighting battalions remain high and uncompromised. No one should expect field commanders to challenge or resist the administration's campaign for "gender diversity" as a "strategic imperative."
5. "Gender-Free" Training is Not the Same as "Gender-Fair" Training
The same advocates who demand "equal opportunities" in combat are the first to demand unequal, gender-normed standards to make it "fair." General Robert W. Cone, who heads the Army's Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) admitted this in an interview with the Defense Department's house-organ American Forces Press Service.
Said Gen. Cone, "Soldiers -- both men and women -- want fair and meaningful standards to be developed for accepting women into previously restricted specialties. I think that fairness is very important in a values-based organization like our Army."
Really? Direct ground combat is not "fair" or "equal." It is not even civilized. Will America's potential adversaries in Iran, North Korea, or North Africa treat our soldiers with "fairness?" Most people believe that the purpose of the Army is to defend our nation's interests by deterring war or fighting to defeat our enemies if deterrence fails.
Then the TRADOC leader made an astonishing statement, reflecting group-think that should alarm every member of Congress and pro-defense Americans:
"'Besides physical ability,' Cone said, 'Army officials will look at "traditional impediments" − the attitudes regarding the acceptance of women into previously male-only jobs....The Army will take 'proactive measures to mitigate resistance to women going into these specialties,' the general said. 'We want the right environment for women,' he said."
According to a January 24 memo issued by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno, the TRADOC Analysis Center is leading a study that will examine the institutional and cultural barriers related to the process of gender-integration in previously all-male units, "in order to develop strategies to overcome these barriers." To advance the Pentagon's "diversity" agenda, TRADOC's analysis likely will target tough training standards, and men who support them, as "barriers" to progress in the New Gender Order.
General Cone, who leads TRADOC, is the guy who is supposed to determine whether women can and should be assigned to infantry, armor, artillery, and Special Operations Forces like the ones who fought to the death on battlefields from Pointe du Hoc to Mogadishu to the liberation of Baghdad and Fallujah. His statement assigning priority to gender integration indicates that he is likely to devalue and discriminate against direct ground combat soldiers like those who fought those battles, and who may be harboring attitudes that might be construed as "resistance" to the "diversity" agenda.
6. Unannounced Lowered Standards will Be "Equal" But Not the Same
The mandate to achieve "diversity metrics" and a "critical mass" of women in combat guarantees that standards will be changed, modified, or gender-normed, eventually making ground combat training "equal" but less demanding for men. We have already seen how this will work by examining what the Marine Corps did with one of several phases in their 2012 research project regarding women in direct ground combat.
As reported in the recently released 42-page CMR Special Report, titled Defense Department "Diversity" Push for Women in Land Combat, requirements in the Women in Service Restrictions Review (WISRR) that the Marine Corps initiated in April 2012 were quietly changed and made less demanding without notice. (pp. 15-17)
Speaking before the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) in September 2011, a representative of the Marine Corps presented slides indicating that as part of the Marines WISRR, male and female volunteers would be asked to perform six "common tasks" to test physical strength and stamina.
But when the actual tests got underway in 2012, as part of the "USMC Assignment of Women to Ground Combat Research Plan," six tests were reduced to three. The toughest ones were quietly taken out, and the remaining three were made less demanding. All male and female volunteers who participated went through the same training exercises − but they were not the same as originally planned.
The original presentation to the DACOWITS in September 2011 promised that "[r]esearch must be deliberate, transparent, and conducted in a manner that will be responsive to senior leadership and external requests for information on short notice." (Slide #9, emphasis added) The Marines have nevertheless denied formal requests for documents and information related to the "common tasks" tests.
In the same 2011 presentation, the Marines reported several significant differences in physiology. On average, women have 47% lower lifting strength, 40% lower muscle strength, 20% lower aerobic capacity (important for endurance), and 26% slower road march speed. In addition, both female attrition/injury rates during entry level training and discharge (break) rates were twice those of men, and non-deployability rates were three times higher.
The next Commandant will be selected under criteria set by the Diversity Commission, and President Obama will expect that general to support MLDC priorities. If infantry battalions are opened to women after 2016, it is likely that quiet changes will be made in the IOC program of instruction so that a sufficient number of women can pass the course.
Standards will be "equal," but not the same as they are now. The same thing will happen in Army Ranger training, which Chief of Staff Gen. Odierno has said he wants to make co-ed.
7. Compromised Standards Will Increase Resentment and Harassment Problems
When Pentagon officials start competing with each other to please feminists, the media, and diversity fanatics, pure nonsense often is passed off as enlightened wisdom. Witness General Dempsey's astonishing claim that women's exemptions from direct ground combat, which the majority of women in enlisted ranks want, somehow have contributed to problems of sexual assault in the military.
This is a peculiar throwback to feminist arguments made in the Navy's post-Tailhook scandal period, when the remedy for alcohol-fueled misconduct by male and female aviators partying at a Las Vegas convention was thought to be gender-integration in naval aviation.
Twenty-two years later, that theory is being put to the test. Women are as close to the fight as they can be, but rates of sexual assault and abuse are soaring with no end in sight. According to a chapter in a recent Army "Gold Book" report, titled "Sex Crime Trends," violent attacks and rapes in the ranks have nearly doubled since 2006, rising from 663 in 2006 to 1,313 in 2011. Even worse, the Army reported that violent sex crime was growing at an average rate of 14.6 percent per year, and the rate was accelerating. (p. 122)
Resentment aggravates hostility, which often is expressed with violence that is always wrong and disruptive to everyone serving in close-knit battalions. The 1992 Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces, noting testimony from Air Force SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) trainers charged to prepare potential prisoners of war, expressed concern about the de-sensitizing effect of policies condoning violence against women, as long as it happens at the hands of the enemy.
The commission also received survey results indicating that a significant cohort of men, called "egalitarian sexists" or "hostile proponents," were in favor of co-ed combat because it would expose women's weaknesses and punish them. Years later, our military may be experiencing a cultural shift that already has degraded certain standards of civilization, summarized by the commission with a simple statement: "Good men respect and defend women." (Commission Report, p. 61)
In training programs today, men routinely are given permission, and sometimes orders, to treat women with roughness. Young men taught by their parents to "never hit a girl" are disadvantaged by this cultural dissonance, which may be impervious to other programs intended to reduce sexual assaults and abuse of women.
Nothing causes resentment like the awareness of double standards imposed in pursuit of "equality" and non-remedial "diversity" that overrides respect for individual merit. At the "tip of the spear," this resentment will vitiate team cohesion, a critically-important cultural factor that depends not on social relationships, but on mutual dependence for survival in the close fight.
As CMR has reported in a Special Report titled "Chilling Trend of Sexual Assaults in the Military," human relationship problems ranging across the spectrum from assault to inappropriate romantic affairs are having a destructive effect on morale and readiness.
Given what is known about human relationships in war, it is far more likely that sexual assaults will increase when chronic problems evident in all other communities are extended into direct ground combat battalions. The cause will not be women -- it will be poor judgment and flawed leadership among White House and Pentagon officials who are putting gender politics above the best interests of national security and the troops they lead.
What Is at Stake
All "tip of the spear" fighting forces − infantry, armor, Special Operations Forces, artillery, and Navy SEALs − execute missions that go beyond the experience of being "in harm's way" in a war zone. All are trained to close with and attack the enemy with deliberate offensive action under fire. Given this definition of direct ground combat, it is not accurate to say that women have been "in combat" on the same basis as men.
Combat effectiveness in war cannot be taken for granted. Nor can it withstand relentless pressures to lower standards in order to meet "diversity metrics." It is not right to impose on elite combat units the weight of social complications that will result in more casualties, more deaths, and even failed missions due to higher injury rates, non-deployability issues, and sexual misconduct rates that have gotten worse in all other military communities.
Most military women do not want this, and they are not to blame for the folly of policy makers such as Secretary Panetta and some of the military's top leaders. All are following orders from the Commander in Chief, who is trying to cut Congress and the American people out of the decision-making process.
Under Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, members of Congress have the authority to make policy for the military. Congress should fulfill this responsibility by exercising diligent oversight, to include a full and public review of all research data gathered in the past year.
To truly honor and respect our courageous servicewomen, Congress should take this issue seriously. The highest priority should be military necessity, not self-interest, political illusions, or ideology that denies differences between men and women.
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